"Do not be afraid, O Zion; do not let your hands fall limp. The Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy." - Zephaniah 3:16-17
I get up before the sun rises. I get dressed. I get into my car and drive to the Starbucks down the street from work. I get a dirty chai tea latte (which is delicious, btw), I go to work. I work for 8 hours. I sit in traffic. I get home. I have a few hours to myself. I go to bed. Repeat.
It is really easy to belittle my life to this right now. It seems like there is not much going on. It can feel like I am alone. It is really easy to let myself have this pity party that my life isn’t everything I wanted or expected.
But this morning I was reminded of something. My God is a victorious warrior. He fights for me and for my heart when no one else does. He does not give up on me. And even though things are a little repetitive (and unexcitedly so), He is building something in me that will not easily falter. So I cannot be afraid or let my hands grow weary, I must continue to strive after Him. Especially in moments where all I can focus on are shaking muscles, tired feet, heavy eyelids and wanderlust. For the sake of the good things He is cultivating in me.
That’s the thing about seasons, they change.
You can be in a particularly exciting and wonderful season, and know in the back of your mind, that at some point the hammer will drop, and the season will change. Things will not go your way, and everything will seem like it’s turned to crap.
Or, you can be in a season where everything is currently crap, everything is difficult, nothing turns out like you had hoped and planned, and know that at some point the sun will come out, and things will even out again, and not seem so unstable or chaotic.
Lately, the latter has been true of my life. Things just kinda suck. But I guess the important part is to remember that this is not how things will always be. Even if Heaven is where that change will happen. If there is anything that I have learned about “walking through the valley of the shadow of death’ it is that it sucks. This is not a happy time. It is not a season of sunshine and popsicles (in my life, because outside it is in fact summer, and there is lots of sunshine and popsicles), and even though I don’t feel Him near, I know that He is. I know that He holds me in His hand, I know that He grieves with me in the things that grieve my heart, I know that He sees me and my pain and my meltdowns, and though they must seem trivial to a God as big as He, He knows my perspective, and understands the meltdown.
Yet, He still asks me to trust Him, with more and more until my entire heart and entire life is in His hands. He knows that it is a safe place for my heart. I know that it is a safe place. But still there is this part of me that is unsure. That’s the essence of faith I guess, to be certain of something you can’t be certain about…that sounds weird…
I know that this season will change. However, I don’t want this season to pass me by without learning what I need to learn. This season came for a reason, and I don’t want to sit idly and wait until I can fool myself into thinking that things are wonderful. I will not experience the fullness of the Lord without giving the fullness of myself to Him and I will not experience the joy of the Lord without making Him my joy.
For a lot of my Christian walk, I believed that you had to be okay. That Christ was supposed to make everything better, and that if you still struggled through trusting Him with areas of your life, you weren’t truly saved. Over the last year or so, God has shown me that I am not okay, and that I trust Him with very little in my life. Or I trust Him with parts of a lot of issues, but it is very difficult to completely surrender something in it’s totality to the Lord. And over the last few months, God has shown me that I don’t have any control over any area of my life, so I should just surrender it to Him, because He will handle it WAY better than I ever could.
I feel as though my chains are heavy and God has forgotten me, and that He does not hear my cries or my prayers. But I know that that is not the truth. I know that God is good. I know that He sees me. I know that He hasn’t left me. I know that He hears my cries and my prayers. I know that His mercies are new every morning. I know that He loves me.
So I keep walking.
When you become a believer, your identity changes. In one decision you go from darkness to light, from rejected and lost to accepted and found. You become a child of the Creator of the Universe, adopted into His family. You become His beloved, made into a new creation.
These are things I know.
These are not things I feel or experience.
I know I am loved. I know that it undeniable how much God loves me. But what am I supposed to do when I can’t feel that? What am I supposed to do if I have only experienced God’s love and mercy and grace intellectually?
I have spent my entire life basically hating myself because I didn’t measure up to other people around me. Whether is was because I didn’t fit the mold of “beautiful” by our society’s standards, or because I was smart, but never quite smart enough, or because men in my life thought that I was cool enough be a great friend, but never cool or pretty enough to be worthy of their love or pursuit. And I have spent my life as a believer basically hating myself because I don’t feel as though I can ever be good enough to receive God’s grace and mercy. That I can never attain this echelon of “ultimate spiritual guru” that doesn’t really exist, but in my mind somewhere I believe that it does.
I know that that is the beauty of the gospel. That I can never be good enough, that’s why Christ came, because He can and does measure up in every way. That’s supposed to be freeing, right? But I haven’t experienced freedom…and I don’t know why.
I am so tired of feeling terrible all the time, feeling like I never have and never will measure up to the standards that other people have of me, and letting those feelings dictate my own self worth and value.
Sometimes I just wish that I could just sit down with Jesus face to face for a cup of coffee, to be able to experience His care in a tangible way. Or that I could just curl up in His arms for real, because I feel like I just need a hug or something, and to know that everything is going to be alright, because everything that I once found to be solid ground is nothing but sand. Now the wind and the waves are coming, and all my walls are crashing down, and I feel left with nothing. The God I thought I knew so deeply and intimately, feels so very far away.
How does one go about figuring out what they are supposed to do with their life? Where they fit in?